Man cannot transform himself into a holy being. As my Irish grandmother would say,“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”In other words, only Christ can transform us into His image and draw us into the heart of His Father.
Atendance at Mass, regular confession, spiritual exercises, fasting, and prayer are wonderful vehicles of grace but if we think pious activities will sanctify us, we will only appear to be holy on the outside like the Pharisees:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.(Matthew 23:27)
Dance with joy!
Joy is different from happiness. Many people equate the two incorrectly. Happiness is fleeting; joy is lasting. Where joy has no “conditions,” happiness does have “conditions.” I’ll be happy if…where we place conditions on what makes us happy. Do you hear those words, “we” and “us” in that last sentence? We define happiness in this life, and we easily can disappoint ourselves; especially when the criterion for happiness is left up to us to decide upon. Many think that riches and fame will bring happiness; but that is not necessarily true. We search for happiness in vain, … Read more…
The Gift of Suffering
Surprisingly, one of the keys to the longevity of our marriage is suffering.
Suffering was a gift which unified us because it stripped away false pride and forced us to our knees in prayer. Honest prayer led both of us to self-knowledge, humility and compassion for each other.
When I asked a priest what my life would have been like if I had not suffered, if I had married a well-off dentist, had 1.25 kids and lived in an efficient, modern house, he put on a phony, pious face, put his hands together in prayer, and said in a high, mocking voice,
”Oh, you would be a nice Christian lady, praising the Lord.”
What he meant by that amusing bit of acting was I would be shallow, without depth and strength. Well, when I see the results of a bit of suffering in our marriage, I say bring it on.
As a Christian, living in the Mystical Body off Christ, I can choose to live in the joy of the Lord or stay in my misery, isolated from the Spirit of God who dwells within.
When I live in my head, I live in a prison of whirling thoughts cut off from others and God.
If I go deeper into my being and live in my human emotions, in pain or in self-manufactured “happiness”, I end up stuck as a victim of others and in my sinful, independent self.
However, if I allow God to draw me even deeper into my core, united to Him, joy springs up automatically.
Now I exist in a state of effortless prayer connected to God. Living in my spirit , as a child of God, I am in my true self.
This joy is the contagious Presence of the Holy Spirit, blessing others with a taste of the Father’s love.
As a Christmas present from me to you, I offer you a homily about receiving Christmas Joy, written by a very good friend of mine, Father Paul Buchanan, who gave the following homily on Christmas day last year to parishioners at my church. At the time, Father Paul was a Transitional Deacon. He has since been ordained to the priesthood on June 28, 2014, and now serves at Saint Matthew Church, in Charlotte, NC.
Receiving Christmas Joy
Joy to the world! The Lord is come. We all know the line from the carol. But why do we rejoice on Christmas day? It’s not just “because God became a man” – although that is a wondrous thing, and an awesome thing… but it can also be an abstract thing. Something that makes us joyful, …Read More
Choose joy and be happy this Christmas season. How so, when all around you there is violence, pain and strife? It is really not that difficult, because attitude is everything! If you are the type of person who counts your blessings, rather than focus on what’s wrong with life, then you are more inclined to experience Christ’s joy within you. This is the time of year when we usually take the time to reflect on the past twelve months and count our blessings. Let me share with you, the ones I find most important, that I think we can all be grateful for: Read more…
Are you searching for true joy? Has joy been missing from your life, or that of a loved one?
Joy is both a virtue and a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It provides an experience of happiness parallel to nothing else; a sense of deep contentment and satisfaction.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI shared his thoughts on this virtue in his 2012 address at World Youth day, where he stated, Read more…